I live in California now. There is a man in our church who is a high school teacher, teaches Sunday school and is quite respected in the church community. He has been living with one of my close friends for five years. I know from my friend that their relationship is sexual.
It really bothers me that he teaches the children when he is not living a Christian lifestyle. There are social occasions (mixed not all Christian groups) when he actually mocks the church and the new minister.
What should I do? Sometimes I think I should do nothing then other times I feel enraged at his boldness.
Your advice please.
Dear Need Advice.
What a sad situation. Having a live-in girl friend is one thing. Having a live-in girlfriend and putting on the church face while being sexually involved and unmarried is simply disgusting.
I’m sorry you are in the position you are in; however, consider that God has placed you here “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:12-14).
You could be hurt before all of this is over. So, be careful. I’ll try to give you a Biblical understanding of how to proceed while minimizing your personal exposure.
I see two approaches. Which one you choose has to do with your level of spiritual maturity.
The Galatians 6:1 model outlined by Paul is best for those who are young in the faith. The Matthew 18 model enunciated by Jesus is best for those farther along in their spiritual journey.
Paul wrote in Galatians 6:1: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.”
The sins of your girlfriend and her boyfriend are not for you to fix. This is an issue for “those who are spiritual” I consider these to be the church leaders (although, some may not seem or be very spiritual).Once you’ve shared your concerns with the elders, back away and leave the fixing to the church leaders.
On the other hand, if you are well along in your Christian maturity, then consider following the guidelines set forth by Jesus. He taught in Matthew 18:15-17: "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”
Let’s focus on your girl friend who told you what was going on. It may be that the reason she told you is because she’s feeling convicted of her sin and is looking for a way out. Talk to her; lead her to confess and repent of her sin and find forgiveness from God. If she moves out and stops committing sexual sin then you have “won over your sister.” If no change occurs, then we will need to get that info to the church leaders soon.
What do we do about the sinning Christian man? By the way, he is guilty of several sins: sex outside of marriage; blasphemy and hypocrisy—among others. You deal with him in the same way that you dealt with your girl friend. Let’s be honest, the chance of the man responding well is miniscule unless the Holy Spirit has already been breaking his heart.
Nevertheless, they both need an opportunity to stop sinning and correct their hearts and behaviors before any one else needs to be involved.
Jesus then said in Matthew 18:16: “But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”
The spiritual maturity needed to take several others to confront the sinning couple—and do it well—is incredibly difficult. Most Christians stumble here. It is just too painful and embarrassing.
Jesus concluded in Matthew 15:17: “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
At this point I would definitely step aside and allow the elders to do their work of confrontation and restoration.
As a pastor we never told the “whole church” about the sinful behavior and refusal to repent which culminates in church discipline. Information is extended only to those over whom he had personal ministry. We considered this to be his “church”. Since he was being asked to leave the church we had to tell those he led why he was no longer in leadership. This stopped all sorts of rumors.
By the way, in implementing this final step, remember how Jesus treated the “pagans and sinners”. He loved them.
May God make the correct approach path so clear that you can’t miss it.